Welcome to the Member Spotlight, which gives well-deserved shine to some of the incredibly skillful and devoted ski and snowboard instructors who make up PSIA-AASI. Whether instruction is a full-time career or a part-time pursuit balanced with other endeavors, PSIA-AASI members have valuable insights to share, gleaned from their experiences on snow.
Enjoy getting to know your colleagues from far and wide who share your passion for teaching skiing and riding! (And fill out this questionnaire for the chance to share YOUR story and insights in Member Spotlight.)
Name: Christopher Praggastis
Member Since: 2012
Primary discipline: Alpine
PSIA-AASI Division: Intermountain
You, Your Gear, and Your Favorites
When did you start skiing or riding? My dad put me on skis when I was 18 months old.
What is your best skiing or snowboarding memory? Every time I get to take a run with my dad. If you were going to press though, probably hiking Baldy Mountain at Alta, Utah for the first time when I was 10 years old.
What would you say to someone to encourage them to try skiing or snowboarding? It's the closest thing we can do to flying – it's frictionless. The feeling is unrivaled.
What are your favorite off-snow hobbies? Anything I get to do that includes my wife and three dogs.
PSIA-AASI and Your Snowsports Education Career
Certifications & specialties achieved: Alpine Level II
Resort you work at: Alta, Utah
What inspired you to become an instructor? It is going to seem repetitive, but again my dad. He's been a ski instructor for 45 years. He started out in Austria, and now he’s been at Alta for 40 years. The childhood I had is because his job was just about as good as it gets – I skied every chance I could.
Do you teach part-time or full-time? Full-time
What other profession(s) or endeavor(s) are you involved in? I'm in the real estate industry. I also install sprinkler systems.
What about your teaching style stands out? It's natural. I try to connect with students where they’re at, and build off of their experiences.
What is you biggest accomplishment as an instructor? Two things. One, I was recognized by my peers as the Alf Engan Ski School Full-Time Instructor of The Year, an award here at Alta. Second, the countless families and clients that come back every year. Most of them have grown up skiing with me, and I'm humbled and thankful for each and every person that I've had the opportunity to ski with.
What’s your favorite PSIA-AASI member benefit? By far the people. Members come from all the different walks of life.
Who is your favorite PSIA-AASI Official Supplier – and why? Lange. The best advice I ever got about boots, "if your foot fits in a Lange, there is no need to try another boot."
What are your current skiing or riding goals? To pass my Alpine Level III this upcoming season.
What are your current teaching goals? Also to pass my Alpine Level III this upcoming season.
Your Advice to Instructors
What’s the best piece of advice you could offer a new instructor? Be patient – this career is like good cheese or wine, it gets better with age.
What are some of your tips for teaching the following students…
Beginners: Make it about having a good time. People learn better when they are happy.
Intermediates: Keep lessons goal based. The student is becoming more aware of their control over the skis. Keep things simple and try to improve one thing at a time.
Advanced students: At this level, students are much more aware of the way they affect their skis. Watch their skiing and give them tips and tricks that can change their skiing. Also realize that even if they are good skiers, most people don't get to ski 100 days a year like you do, so give them things they can get good at in a week while they are in their ski vacation.
What advice do you have for instructors preparing for certification?
Level I: Show up and pay attention. Also relax and be receptive.
Level II: Be knowledge of the basics. Know what you're talking about and know how to put a
good lesson plan together.
Level III: I’m going through this process now, but from what I can tell ski, ski, ski, and study, study, study. Surround yourself with people who are trying to, or have achieved what you're trying to accomplish. Ask lots of questions and pay attention.
Sound off… Anything else you want to share? Becoming a ski instructor was one of the best decisions I ever made. It's where I found myself, it's where I met my wife, it's what my family does, and it's the cornerstone of my life.
Connect with Christopher Praggastis on Instagram: @Xrislpp
Want to see yourself in our next "Member Spotlight?" Fill out this questionnaire for a chance to be featured across our social media platforms, the eNewsletter, and our website. You could even make it into 32 Degrees!